Covent Garden Masterplan
Although a renowned district with a rich history, world-class cultural assets such as the Royal Opera House, and highly significant historic architecture, Covent Garden was in need of improvement when acquired by our client Capital and Counties (Capco) in 2006.
Intensive tourism, public realm congestion, lack of maintenance, and outdated facilities had made this a part of London avoided by most Londoners. Aspiring to make Covent Garden a world-class urban mixed use district, Capco seeks to both improve the quality of the visitor experience and re-balance the mix of uses to include residential, modern workplaces, and upgraded retail and food and beverage outlets.
A masterplan was needed to assemble the many small scale initiatives around the estate within an overall development framework. Three workflows emerged as part of a long term investment by our clients:
- Public realm improvements
- Conservation and re-positioning of the heritage assets
- Replacement of non-contributing outdated buildings with new architecture
KPF’s expertise in mixed use environments allowed us to conceive of this historic section of London as a single functioning entity that sponsors a great diversity of experience. Covent Garden is something of a prototype for modern mixed use developments insofar as it has always supported a diverse mix of uses. Originally a speculative residential development of the Duke of Bedford in 1630 it later became a marketplace, then an entertainment district, and more recently a retail destination. The KPF masterplan initiates a new phase of evolution that builds on this diversity of experience and conserves the intrinsic qualities of the place.
Improved permeability throughout the district is a first principle, as reflected by the creation of entirely new pedestrian routes and courtyards which improve links to surrounding transit hubs and neighbouring districts, alleviate congestion, and increase retail frontage. Several new courts and atria have opened up formerly closed interiors of blocks to the public realm.
Layers of Enhancement
Six key approaches to shape the future of Covent Garden as a mixed-use district:
Public Realm Improvements
The creation of new pedestrian routes and courtyards improve permeability and links to neighbouring districts, while also alleviating congestion and increasing retail frontages.
Conservation and Refurbishment
Historic structures, many of which are listed, have been restored and in some cases returned to their original use, and in others repositioned to have an alternative use such as residential, hotel, or retail.
The masterplan establishes a new phase for the district, conserving the intrinsic qualities of the place while improving the visitor experience and re-balancing the mix of uses.
The new architecture is inspired by the unique character that differentiates Covent Garden from surrounding areas. Its history as a marketplace and a place for entertainment is evident in its varied palette of architectural styles. The relationship to the immediate surroundings is always the starting point for our architectural studies, using color, texture, and scale to reflect the fine grain and idiosyncratic character of the area.
Kings Court & King Street
Kings Court is a new mixed use precinct to the northwest of the Covent Garden Piazza composed of an assemblage of contemporary and historic buildings around a new courtyard.
This new destination immersed within the existing urban fabric will be something of a quiet refuge in a busy and colourful part of London.
The public realm was the starting point of the design and is intended to be the unifying element that knits together the different buildings and uses. New passages connect the formerly inaccessible interior of the block to surrounding routes and venues.
Upon emerging from a passage through a nineteenth-century terrace in King Street into the treed courtyard, visitors will discover an entirely new lifestyle retail and dining concept unique to London. The ground floor is a continuous network of indoor and outdoor spaces including refurbished period shop fronts and interiors.
Contemporary architecture is interwoven with historic buildings of varied styles and materials, creating an environment that is feels both new and completely integrated with the surroundings.
The most prominent architectural feature in Floral Street will be a vertical folly inspired by the stacked crates of the former market's working warehouses. Facades of handmade brick and steel-framed windows were inspired by the surrounding warehouses but are distinctly modern in scale and proportion.
Fifty-five apartments occupy six different buildings, three of which are listed. KPF’s scope of work includes the design of residential interiors: contemporary in Floral Street with a palette that complements the architecture and period restorations in the King Street terraces. A unified basement houses a central plant, and distributes utilities and provides below-grade servicing links to the six buildings. This fully integrated model of development makes Kings Court a new model for sustainable high density living in a conservation area.
A trio of new developments will transform cobbled Floral Street into a premium retail and residential address, including the contemporary architecture of Kings Court, the restoration of two listed buildings, Carriage Hall and 12 Floral Street, and the conversion of a former warehouse at No.11 Floral Street.
The Wellington Hotel
This proposal for an 80-room hotel will initiate the rejuvenation of the southwest quadrant of Covent Garden and provide a new gateway to the estate from the Strand. An assemblage of six period buildings, comprising nearly the full extent of a block in the conservation area, will be reconfigured to accommodate 80 hotel rooms, 2 restaurants, and a spa. Listed buildings and retained facades of merit have been knitted together with reconstructed and entirely new architectural features such as a glass domed cupola, patinated bronze shop fronts and canopies, and steel-framed conservatories. The concept is to create a luxurious and comfortable retreat in this busy part of London that builds on the inherent variety and eccentricity of the area. Bespoke detailing and individualized room design will make this a completely unique hotel property.